The Trinity River connects North Texas as it runs from near the Red River, and then splits into four forks – the Clear Fork, West Fork, Elm Fork and East Fork – to run through Weatherford and Fort Worth, Denton down to Lewisville, Dallas and then McKinney to Lake Ray Hubbard. The forks reconnect southeast of Dallas to continue its trek down to the Gulf of Mexico.
Major flooding has plagued the Trinity River in Dallas for more than a century, with the flood of 1908 being so damaging that the only way to reach Oak Cliff before the waters receded was
by boat. Flood control measures were put into place, including a measure to move the Trinity from its original path along I-35 E to where it flows today, as well as many of the bridges and viaducts we traverse around Downtown Dallas.
Fast forward to the 21st century. The desire to address changing land uses and additional stormwater runoff, as well as continuing to realize the beauty of the river and floodplain, efforts to develop a balance between public safety, ecosystem improvements and recreation opportunities were re-initiated with elected officials, public agencies, non-profit entities, private philanthropy and local residents and businesses began working to develop a plan that would meet the needs of the future.
In 2004, The Trinity Trust Foundation and Trinity Commons Foundation were formed to raise public awareness and secure private funds in support of the Trinity River Corridor Project, including the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Margaret McDermott Bridge, Ronald Kirk Bridge and
Felix Lozado Sr. Gateway, trails and other components of the project. They also worked to grow existing and new non-profits to increase the opportunities for recreation and architecturally significant structures. Between the public agencies at the federal, state and local level, as well as the private philanthropic efforts, over $1B has been secured and implemented. Improvements to flood control, ecosystem enhancements, recreation and transportation networks have been completed with more than $350M in flood control currently underway.
On December 12, 2005, construction on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge began — the bridge is one of three Santiago Calatrava-designed bridges to be constructed as part of the project. Though official construction began almost a year and a half earlier, heavy construction did not start until June 2008. Completed in 2012, it connects Woodall Rodgers Freeway in downtown to Singleton Avenue in west Dallas setting the stage for a new skyline boosting development along the western side of the Trinity River.
The second Calatrava bridge, Margaret McDermott Bridge, began construction on December 12, 2005 and opened on March 29, 2012, replacing the existing I-30 bridge over the Trinity River. This vehicular bridge offers dedicated pedestrian and bicycle access connecting Oak Cliff to the Cedars and Downtown Dallas.
Building the bridges also resulted in a watershed of development (pardon the pun). West Dallas was completely revitalized with new housing, a plethora of dining options at Trinity Groves and miles of trails and greenspace along the levees, and if the water is high enough, you might see the occasional kayaker paddling downstream.
The Trinity River is a 423 mile (680 kilometers) long river in Texas, and is the longest river with a watershed entirely within the U.S. state of Texas.